Rox searching for answers following extras loss

June 5th, 2022

DENVER -- The Rockies may have debuted their eye-catching -- but largely well-received, judging by fans modeling in the stands since they were unveiled -- green Nike City Connect uniform. But the clothes didn’t reverse a striking, three-week pattern of disconnect that again surfaced in their 6-2, 11-inning loss to the Braves at Coors Field on Saturday night.

Since their surprising 16-11 start, the Rockies have dropped 19 of their last 26 games. Most of the losses can be blamed on the starting rotation, which has had some tough outings despite strong run support. But a fair number of the losses lately played out like Saturday’s.

Lefty Kyle Freeland held the Braves to one run on five hits, and matched his season high with seven innings. But like Friday night, when the Rockies did little with Chad Kuhl’s six scoreless innings in a 3-1, 10-inning loss, the offense went missing once again.

The offense managed just one run in four innings against Braves starter Spencer Strider, despite his five walks and two wild pitches. They paid for it much later, when two-out RBI doubles by Marcell Ozuna and William Contreras, and Adam Duvall’s two-run homer off Jhoulys Chacín settled the game.

No room here for finger-pointing, however.


On May 13, the Rockies dropped a 14-13 home decision to the Royals. Since then, the list of losses with high run production is long. They scored seven in three losses, six in two other losses and five in two more defeats. That’s eight games that they could have won with even decent work from the pitching staff -- especially with a starting rotation that was expected to be the strength of the club.

But the opposite also has been true enough times to be galling. Four times, the starter has pitched the requisite five innings for a win and given up no runs twice, one run once and three runs another time -- all in losing efforts. The lack of runs the last two nights reached historic proportions, per the Elias Sports Bureau:

• Saturday was the fifth time in Coors Field history that a game has entered extra innings tied at 1, and the first since Aug. 24, 2009, against the Giants.

• The game came on the heels of just the second game in Coors Field history to go into extra innings scoreless. It happened only once previously on Sept. 14, 2008, against the Dodgers.

• The Rockies managed just three hits, including Elias Díaz’s RBI game-tying single in the 10th. Never before had they been held to three or fewer hits in consecutive games at Coors.

“It’s frustrating,” Freeland remarked. “You want to be firing on all cylinders. You want your offense to be putting up runs. You want your pitchers to be getting deep in games and throwing up zeros. It’s a spot we need to get to if we want to hit .500 and then start building from there.”

Atlanta's pitching is a huge part of the last two nights. On Friday, lefty Max Fried held the Rockies scoreless on two hits in eight innings. Yes, Strider -- whose long-term future may be as a righty in the late innings -- was all over the place. But the Rockies kept chasing his slider, and struck out five times. And the over the last two nights, the bullpen hasn't pitched like the .500 team the Braves (27-27) are, but instead reminiscent of last year’s World Series champions.

“They pitched really well,” said outfielder Yonathan Daza, who struck out three times in an 0-for-4 night after fanning just 10 times over 122 plate appearances in his previous 40 games. “But it happens. Those guys practice, too. And I need to come back tomorrow and do better.”

Yes, at times they score big, even with Kris Bryant having missed 37 of the last 39 games with a back injury. Sure, Kuhl and Freeland theoretically could be the start of a roll, and rookie righty Ryan Feltner has pitched well in his last two starts.

Despite all their capabilities, however, the failure to connect has resulted in a 22-30 record.